Assessment Of Community Resource Management Environmental Sciences Essay

This is a community development planning study which examined the resource management capacity of selected barangays given the prevailing mindset of people (i.e. no sense of ownership of local resources), how local organizations worked to effect protection and development of these resources, and how the stakeholders managed these resources. To pursue with this aim, the study covered barangays Ayala, Talisayan, Pamucutan, La Paz, Cawit and Tulungatung – west coast of Zamboanga City. It utilized Participatory Resource Appraisal (PRA) in data gathering. Data gathered were subjected to SWOT analysis.

Results of the study revealed that the communities’ resources are so vast and rich which barangay officials cannot manage alone. LGUs have laudable resource management plans that need people’s cooperation to implement. However, people do not participate because they believe this is LGUs’ sole responsibility. Meanwhile, investors, mostly outsiders, have more access to resources, which some over-utilize and/or pollute with industrial wastes.

Results of the study, therefore, indicated a need for barangay officials and the people to build their capacity to effectively manage community resources through collaborative efforts in all stages of development. Thus, the study recommended a resource management action planning to be participated in by both barangay officials and sector representatives.

Introduction

Natural resources are the foundation from which the rural poor can overcome poverty. (Ferrer, et al, 1996). However, in a country like the Philippines which is noted for its rich and vast natural resources, it is a paradox that poverty continues to reign especially among rural folks.

Although poverty alleviation and sustainable development are components of Philippine government programs, planning has been concentrated at the higher echelon of government bureaucracy leading to a top down approach which fails to attain participation of concerned communities leaving no feeling of ownership in the programs implemented. Local level participation and grassroots initiatives are key elements in any community resource management effort. (Ferrer, et al. 1996).

One of the approaches which placed emphasis on community involvement in management of resources and social justice is community-based coastal resource management. Community-based Coastal Resource Management (CBCRM) is one of the most significant approaches used because of its emphasis on both natural resources and social justice. Its roots come from two strains of civil society movements in the Philippines, namely: environmental conservation and human rights. It undertakes Community Resource Management in the context of community transformation by ensuring social and economic equity, holistic and integrated management, and sustainable livelihood and development. Community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) is one of the most important manifestations of true decentralization as it relates to control of rural resources. CBNRM programs, if successful, can be models of local empowerment, imbuing communities with greater authority over the use of natural resources. Under the right circumstances, they can also bring important benefits to poor people and poor communities (Holmes & Cooper, 2005).

The ECSOM (Ecosystem-Based Community-Centered Sustainable Development Organization and Management) proposed by the Maximo Kalaw Institute for Sustainable Development, is also one such community-based sustainable development framework. ECSOM provides the local government and other sectors, the framework for designing and instituting programs for economic development and poverty alleviation, and affirms what is already provided for in the 1987 Constitution and Local Government Code of 1991 (Roxas S.K., 2007).

A study is deemed necessary in establishing an ecosystem-based community-centered sustainable development organization and participatory management preparatory and pre-feasibility phase. As such, emphasis is put on expanding participation beyond consultation. It is making the people not mere data sources but also involving them in the process of data gathering and in building their aspirations, needs and abilities toward a just, equitable and sustainable future for all. On this principle was this study anchored, as conducted in barangays Ayala, Talisayan, Pamucutan, Lapaz, Cawit and Tulungatung which form the ECSOM cluster in the west coast of Zamboanga City.

Method

The study covered the whole communities of the six barangays in the west coast of Zamboanga City, as the main subjects of the study. Specifically, it mobilized the following stakeholders from each community: barangay officials represented by the Chairperson, Kagawads and Sangguniang Kabataan, the Barangay Health Workers, Day Care Workers, Purok leaders and PO leaders, and representatives of sectors such as; farmers, fisherfolks, women, youth and factory workers.

The study used primarily the Participatory Resource Appraisal (PRA) procedure that enabled participants to unravel and analyze their situation, and in acting/planning on their own. The PRA is an approach that evolved from a series of qualitative multidisciplinary approach to learning about local-level conditions and local people’s perspective including agro ecosystem analysis (IBRD/WB, 1998). It seeks to generate knowledge and then to use that knowledge to empower the participants as they create solutions to the problems they face. Outcomes are focused not only on the creation of that change, but also on individual and group empowerment, and the creation of a heightened sense of self-esteem through ownership of the process and the solution (Palloff, 1996, p. 47). Secondary data were also collected and analyzed to generate the barangay profiles and served as input to the development planning process.

Four phases marked the assessment process. (1) emergence and development of research design which was inspired and influenced by the Ecosystems-Based Community Centered for Sustainable Development Organization and Management (ECSOM); (2) pre-study consultation with respective officials and stakeholders of concerned communities to present the proposed study and agree as to its purpose, scope and coverage, and to generate commitment of stakeholders to participate in the process; (3) mobilization and engagement which entailed the formation and orientation of the PRA team. The actual data collection used PRA tools (resource mapping, social services mapping, production flow chart, seasonality diagram, organizational matrix, historical transect, pie chart of household income and expenditure) facilitated through workshops and focused-group discussions conducted in the six barangays with the people as partners in data collection and analysis. Analysis of data was done on the spot by local research participants during the presentation of workshop outputs that provided opportunity for checking and feedback, triangulation of findings from three (3) sources (e.g. workshops, focus group discussion and interview with identified key informants, and secondary data) to determine trends and priorities, subjecting data gathered to SWOT analysis, and conducting of consolidation workshops and data validation; and (4) action planning which was a two-pronged process of (a) strategic planning that resulted in the formulation of the 3-year development plan and 1-year investment plan of the barangays consolidated as a cluster plan for the 6 barangays; and (b) institution building which included formation of a viable organizational structure required to operate and implement the cluster plan, complete with vision and mission.

Based on the conceptual flow of the study, the primary source (input) in data gathering was the production sectors in the community which included the agricultural and fishery sectors as well as the local government, community-based people organizations, non-government organizations, and the business sector. The data gathered from the participants were used to determine the state of resource management practice of the community in terms of availability, access, utilization and sustainability.

Results

In order to determine the community resource management capacity of the six barangays, results of the assessment were classified as follows: (a) natural resource (specifically pertaining to the main production sectors i.e. agriculture, fishery and forest resources); (b) basic social services; (c) community infrastructure; and (d) organizational management/ governance.

Results of the study revealed a vast and rich natural resource base for the six barangays which comprises of the production sectors such as agriculture and fishery. About a 30-kilometre shoreline traverses the coastlines of barangays Ayala, Cawit and Talisayan – a primary source of fish, lobsters and other marine products for small-scale fishermen. It provides great economic opportunities for both local and foreign investors who engage in fishing, canning, box and tin can production, and fish mill operations, all of which provide ample income to some residents and outsiders. Small-scale fishermen, both resident and non-residents of the area have lesser access to fish resources as their fishing technology are no match to the big boats of commercial fishers. Furthermore, they have now to go far out at sea as there are hardly any fishes near the shorelines due to water pollution by industrial wastes. In terms of resource utilization, while large-scale fishers do it for commercial purposes, small-scale fisher folks do it primarily for subsistence, and whatever extra, they sell (See Table 1).

Sustainability of marine resources is challenged by pollution due to dumping of untreated industrial wastes into the sea, and by oil spill from factories. On the other hand, dynamite fishing destroys coral reefs fingerlings. Similarly, the use of fish nets by small-scale fishermen, does not also spare fingerlings, resulting in decreased volume of fishes in the area. Both commercial and small-scale fishers do not heed an existing ordinance on fish ban during the breeding months from October to December.

Table 1

Community Resource Base

Resource

Available

Access

Utilization

Marine Resources

Accessed by both big commercial boats owned mostly by foreigners and their Filipino partners; and by marginal fishermen, both residents and non-residents of the area.

For fish canning to supply local and foreign markets.

For subsistence and small-scale sale of fishes by marginal fishermen.

Community Resource Management Capacity (Marine Resources)

Approximately, a total of 182 hectares of rich agricultural land are devoted to rice-farming in the low-lying barangays of Ayala, Cawit and Talisayan. Upland barangays of La Paz, Pamucutan and Tulungatung have rich agricultural farms that produce rice, vegetables, fruits, poultry, and cock. These farms employ tenant farmers and farm laborers. La Paz and Pamucutan are engaged in large-scale production of vegetables and other high-value crops. Continuous skills and technology development in these modes of agricultural production are provided by the Department of Agriculture. Earnings and income generated from a 50-hectare farm is estimated at Php100, 000 per harvest (See Table2).

The cluster produces sufficient rice supply to the residents of the six barangays. Large areas (in hectares) are devoted to rice farming in the following barangays: Talisayan – 180, Tulungatung – 115, Pamucutan – 100 and Ayala – 40. However, the utilization of the potentials of the agricultural land resource is not maximized as harvest is only twice a year.

Sustainability-wise, majority of the farmers do not use organic fertilizer and insecticides and still rely on chemical-based ones. Moreover, some farmers complain of lack of post-harvest facilities. Others have difficulty in bringing products to the market due to poor road condition, giving chance for middlemen or compradors to buy farm products from farmers at very low price, almost 1/3 of the market price. Kaingin system, which is still being employed in some areas, endangers the soil’s richness while illegal cutting of trees in forest areas to supply the box factory and for charcoal making of Talisayan, has led to soil erosion and subsequent siltation in rivers, endangering the supply of water in irrigation systems (See Table 2).

Table 2

Community Resource Base

Resource

Available

Access

Utilization

Agricultural Resources

(Agricultural lands, irrigation)

Accessed largely by local people.

Employs local people as tenants or farm hands.

Vegetable, fruit, rice, poultry and cock farms for subsistence and commercial purposes.

Community Resource Management Capacity (Agricultural Resources)

Two (2) major rivers – the Dumalon and Sas rivers supply water to the irrigation systems of Cawit, Tulungatung, Ayala, Talisayan, and Pamucutan. These rivers and their tributaries, aside from being source of irrigation water, also provide good quality sand and gravel – a source of a quarrying business thriving in the area by outside investors (See Table 3).

However, unregulated sand and gravel quarrying, coupled with cutting of trees in forests, has resulted in soil erosion and erosion of river banks and subsequent siltation. This condition has resulted in flooding in adjacent barangays prompting fishpond owners, in Cawit particularly, to complain. Aggravating the situation is the dumping of garbage in rivers by some residents. A potential proposed mining exploration can pollute the water. Moreover, a proposed mining exploration in the area poses an additional threat to rivers through chemical pollution.

Table 3

Community Resource Management Capacity (Rivers)

Community Resource Base

Resource

Available

Access

Utilization

Rivers (with good quality sand and gravel)

(Common resource of the six barangays)

Some barangay people and some industries have access to forest resources and wildlife

Sand and gravel accessed by outside investors.

Provide water for farm irrigation and for household, commercial and

industrial use.

Sand and gravel quarrying for business purposes by non-resident investors.

The Ayala watershed consists of 102 hectares, with 277.46 hectares of close canopy area, 217 hectares of plantation forest, 1.93 hectares residual forest, 663 hectares cultivated area, and 11.14 hectares open grass land. There is an existing agreement between the city government and DENR for the protection and conservation of the Ayala watershed that provides potable water to the whole of Zamboanga City.

On the other hand, La Paz watershed is protected and preserved through the presence of the WMSU College of Forestry and Environmental Studies WMSU experimental project which covers 1,277 hectares planted to indigenous trees. But local people access and illegally cut trees, including bacawan trees, basically for building houses and other similar structures, without reforestation. There is also rampant cutting of trees to supply raw materials for the box factory in Talisayan. Noticeably some forest areas are gradually denuded.

The number of wild animals like deer, wild pigs, monkeys, tarsiers and birds is increasingly decreasing due to continuous hunting by local residents and those from neighboring areas like Sibuco, Zamboanga del Norte. There is no barangay ordinance to regulate the activity.

Table 4

Community Resource Management Capacity (Forest, Watershed, Wildlife)

Community Resource Base

Resource

Available

Access

Utilization

Forest trees and wildlife

Occupied by farmers under stewardship program.

Landowners and local populace have access to forest resources.

Residents and non-residents have access to wildlife resources.

Farmers raise vegetables.

Landowners cut down trees for construction.

Wildlife hunted for food by residents and non-residents.

Ayala -La Paz Watershed

Protected area

Source of potable water for commercial, industrial and domestic use.

Although the rich mineral resources in some barangays remain untapped, there is a proposal of a mining company do to mining exploration in Baluno and La Paz covering around 5-7 hectares. Residents strongly oppose the proposal having experienced the effects of mining done by Zambales Mining at La Paz ten years ago. Ayala farmers were also affected because they were not able to plant for almost ten years. There are still remains of poisonous substances in the riverbeds due to the Zambales mining operations more than a decade ago. Today, some residents engage in camote mining (small-scale) for subsistence (See Table 5).

Table 5

Community Resource Management Capacity (Forest)

Community Resource Base

Resource

Available

Access

Utilization

Mineral Resources (e.g. gold, copper, zinc, manganese and ore found in La Paz and Pamucutan)

Access is limited to residents in the area who engage in small-time mining activities or ‘camote-mining’.

To meet subsistence needs.

Social services found in the six barangays, mandated of barangays local government units (BLGU), are day care services, elementary and secondary schools, health center, barangay hall, church or masjid, and cemetery. Health services are available 24/7 although some medical facilities are lacking. Basic education is well-provided in the six barangays, with only two barangay high schools serving the whole cluster. The main problem of these schools is inadequate school facilities. Various organizations present in the barangays which offer microfinance facilities are KFI, TAYTAY, Ayudahan and ASA. Land Bank itself gives up to Php300, 000-loan to farmer coops. Loans are availed of in order to finance family enterprise or to subsidize rice farming inputs. However, due to poverty, loan proceeds are sometimes used to buy basic necessities. But the sadder thing is that others spend on vices (See Table 6).

Table 6

Community Resource Management Capacity (Basic Social Services)

Community Basic Resource

Resource

Available

Access

Utilization

Health

Generally accessible to residents thru barangay health centers, lying-in clinic in Ayala and wellness center in La Paz, which operate 24/7.

However, not very accessible to residents of La Paz and Pamucutan due to distance and lack of transporation.

High utilization.

Education

Pres-school and elementary education are available in all six barangays.

Secondary education available only in Ayala and Talisayan.

In La Paz, households are dispersed making it difficult for children to attend school due to distance.

School children avail of educational facilities.

Credit facilities

Several microfinance facilities operating in the area (KFI, MEMPCO, TAYTAY, Ayudahan and ASA)

Land Bank gives up to Php300, 000-loan to farmer coops.

For family enterprise or to subsidize rice farming inputs; some spend proceeds to buy basic necessities; others, on vices.

As mandated, all the six barangays have their respective elected Barangay Councils. Government line agencies as well as instrumentalities of the city government do their part in addressing the basic services needs of the populace. Community-based organizations are also operating in the area such as women’s organizations, farmers’ associations, and youth associations, sustainability of which are challenged by the fact that these are mostly leader-driven. The local catholic church exerts a degree of influence in the affairs of these communities. A number of non-government organizations also implement projects in these which offer free medical services and housing projects, to name a few. Local and national line agencies of the government also provide services to the barangays. Likewise, the Zamboanga City Water District and the Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative also extend their services (See Table 7).

Table 7

Community Resource Management Capacity (Operational Management And

Governance)

Resources

Available

Access

Utilization

Sustainability

Office of the Barangay Council per barangay

Line agencies:

DepEd, DOLE, PNRC, PCSO, DAR, DSWD, CSWDO, PNP, FD, CAO, CEO, others.

Most accessible structural resource to all constituents

Utilized by people for settlement of disputes; emergency assistance; issuance of certificates; and making impartial decisions on barangay affairs.

Barangay officials readily available.

There is a need to strengthen their capacity to manage and regulate utilization of community resources thru ordinances and resolutions.

NGOs/Pos

People in communities have access to membership in POs.

People have access to services offered by NGOs in the area like Gawad Kalinga, Glee Club, Kasanyangan Foundation, Inc. (KFI), Tzu Chi Foundation and USAID Equals.

Community people take advantage of the services and technical assistance offered by NGOs and POs like housing projects and loan grants.

Usually, these organizations are leader-driven.

Not fully functional as leaders are lacking in capacities.

Organizations need continuous capacity building.

Only few members sustain their membership.

The six barangays covered by the study have some if not all of the basic community infrastructures. The barangays have their respective Barangay Halls or Barangay Offices. Multi-purpose covered courts are also available in these barangays which were constructed inside school campuses and others in donated lands. Barangay Ayala specifically has a mini-gymnasium where public events and activities are oftentimes held. Other community infrastructures available in these barangays are the buildings which house the health centers, day care centers and the schools.

Discussion

The study revealed the existence a vast and rich community resource base in the clustered barangays, particularly, natural resources. But the people remain generally poor. Some benefit from industries through employment, but this is seasonal. Results of the study also indicated that the communities have lesser access to some resources than outsiders; and that they are not able to manage their natural resources effectively, leaving outside investors to bring havoc to these resources through pollution and over-utilization. Barangay local government units admit they have to formulate more ordinances to protect the resources, while, existing ordinances are hardly implemented. Meanwhile, the rape of the environment flourishes. Clearly, the damage wrought by industries outweighs the benefits from their ventures, especially on the long-term.

Although local people have high access to agricultural lands, farmers are beset with lack of farm facilities and needed infrastructure. Infrastructure is known to be the economy’s backbone. Power and water supply, transportation and communication systems are all important elements in people’s quest to improve their quality of life. Overcoming poverty means individual and collective empowerment, strengthening productive and income generating capacities and increasing opportunities. This requires a clear understanding of the activities of poor people and of the natural, social, economic and political environment in which they live. It also requires supportive policies, institutions, services and investment (IFAD, 2006).

The study also revealed that the barangay LGUs have very good resource management plans. However, these remain unimplemented. Given the vastness of the cluster’s resources, and considering the extent of the adverse effects of inappropriate resource utilization both by residents and non-residents of the barangays, local officials certainly cannot do it alone. This political exercise necessitates the involvement of prime stakeholders – the people, even at the planning stage. It also necessitates concerted effort among the six barangays who are intertwined by the ecosystem.

Community based resource management is not only about communities taking on the mechanical management responsibilities. It also requires involving communities in all stages of making decisions about the nature and direction of development and conservation (Mekong Wetlands Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use Programme, 2004).

However, the study indicated that majority of local folks remain passive about their role in managing community resources. To them, this is the sole responsibility of government officials. Thus, there is a need for a two-way paradigm shift: (a) for local officials to encourage people participation even at the planning stage of development initiatives, based on local officials’ mandate (1991 Local Government Code); and (b) for local people to understand and appreciate their vital role in purposively planning and managing their resources for maximum access and sustainability.

Cognizant of these imperatives, the participants of the study proceeded with the formulation of the Three-Year Development Plan and the One-Year Investment Plan. The planning activity was an exercise in community-based resource planning that involved the representatives of the various sectors of the community together with local officials who participated in the study, as inspired by ECSOM and as recommended by the study team.

The cluster members likewise institutionalized their plans by forming the cluster organization called the Alyansa de Costa Oeste Para Progreso Y Prosperidad, and created committees to pursue the identified priority projects. The biggest challenge now that confronts the clustered communities is how to sustain the momentum and achieve their goals.